Chapter 45 – Extra Story
Returning to a Long-Forgotten Dream
Lies come in various forms in this world—some intentional, some aimless, some rough, some meticulous, some innocent, some accidental, and some harmless. Sui Yang believed that the lies he told Xie Min belonged to the last category.
Since his unexpected encounter with Xie Min last year, Sui Yang’s sleep patterns had changed dramatically. When they shared a room, sleep came easily, but the distance between them made it difficult to find rest.
It was in March when Xie Min departed for the city where his partner resided. He needed to stay there for two whole months.
Four days after Xie Min’s departure, Sui Yang finished work and didn’t have any dinner plans. He settled for a modest meal at the office and then proceeded as scheduled to Dr. Zhuo’s clinic.
On the way, Sui Yang took a glance at the photos Xie Min had sent in the morning, showcasing the conference venue in that local area.
Although Xie Min hadn’t captured his own image, Sui Yang managed to find Xie Min’s reflection in the glass.
Outside the car window, the remnants of the Spring Festival atmosphere still clung to the streets of Yuanguang. Red Chinese knots adorned the trees along the roadside.
Sui Yang held his phone, immersed in a momentary daze, harboring suspicions that perhaps he had merely lived through an extended dream. It seemed that everything he possessed might not be truly real but rather deceptive.
Uncertain of the origin of these thoughts, he speculated that it might be due to his relatively short time being in love.
He arrived at the hospital and entered the doctor’s room. Sui Yang engaged in a conversation with Dr. Zhuo about recent events, straightforwardly explaining his intentions without much detour.
Dr. Zhuo didn’t actively endorse the request, yet obliged Sui Yang’s plea by prescribing a week’s worth of sleeping pills.
After leaving the hospital, Sui Yang originally intended to return to the hotel apartment where he and Xie Min were temporarily staying. However, during the journey, for reasons unknown, he suddenly instructed the driver to change course towards the building across from Xie Min’s house in Linfeng Manor.
The apartment in Linfeng Manor shared the same designer as the one they had found in Yuanguang, resulting in some similarities in interior decoration.
It had been a while since Sui Yang had last visited after reconciling with Xie Min. They He never truly resided there, and it seemed that even the cleaning staff who came weekly knew the house better than Sui Yang did.
In the study, Sui Yang opened the curtains, revealing that the room directly across the street belonged to Xie Min. Although standing by the window didn’t provide a glimpse into the interior of Xie Min’s home, the physical proximity felt remarkably close.
This was the thought that had occupied Sui Yang’s mind when he purchased this property.
Before retiring for the night, after taking the prescribed medication, Sui Yang received a phone call from Xie Min.
It was afternoon on Xie Min’s side. He enthusiastically recounted his day’s experiences to Sui Yang. Sui Yang quietly listened with headphones on, his consciousness becoming blurred.
Just before sinking into the realm of dreams, Sui Yang suddenly felt a prickling sensation in his limbs, and they heard Xie Min saying, “Is someone feeling sleepy? Goodnight.” However, he wasn’t sure if he responded or not.
Upon waking up again, Sui Yang realized that the entire world had become huge.
He found himself standing in a room that was somewhat familiar yet not entirely foreign—specifically, in Xie Min’s own bedroom, in a transparent acrylic box in the corner.
Sui Yang suspected that the effects of the sleeping pills hadn’t fully worn off, causing him to have a weird and vivid dream. In the dream, he took a step forward and placed his hand against the box’s surface, carefully observing Xie Min. At the same time, he became aware that he had transformed into a black trendy toy bear within the dream.
He had seen it before when he last visited Xie Min’s house to help with something.
Sui Yang found this kind of dream rather intriguing, even more so than the fragmented memories from the past.
The room had a dim ambiance, with the curtains drawn, making it difficult to discern whether it was daytime or nighttime. Suddenly, there was movement from the slightly elevated bed nearby, and someone sat up. It was Xie Min, dressed in a deep blue pajama set.
After sitting up, Xie Min initially appeared disoriented, looking around with a perplexed gaze. He reached out and fumbled around, searching for a while until he found his phone under the pillow. However, despite staring at the phone for a while, Xie Min didn’t do much and eventually displayed a look of alarm.
In the dream, Sui Yang recollected the confident expression on Xie Min’s face when he first entered their LEGO rabbit, as if he were trying to intimidate him. So, following the memories, Sui Yang raised his hand and tapped on the acrylic box.
Xie Min heard a sound and looked towards Sui Yang.
Sui Yang tapped on the box again, causing Xie Min to widen his eyes and pause for a moment. He got out of bed and walked towards the box. As Xie Min approached the box, he bent down, and Sui Yang saw his slender neck come close. Xie Min raised his hand, opened the box, and somewhat roughly took Sui Yang out.
Sui Yang noticed that the force, colors, and gaze didn’t quite feel like a dream.
“Strange,” Xie Min muttered, frowning deeply.
Xie Min played with Sui Yang’s limbs, turned his head, lightly shook his clothes, and mumbled, “Was it you moving earlier? Or was I dreaming?”
Sui Yang responded, “It was me moving.”
Xie Min stood there stunned, locking eyes with Sui Yang for nearly ten seconds.
To break the tension, Sui Yang cautiously cleared his throat. Xie Min’s hand trembled, causing Sui Yang to be tossed aside.
“What’s going on, Sui Yang?” Xie Min sat in front of Sui Yang, looking somewhat worried. “Are we dreaming?”
Xie Min put forth the idea himself, and Sui Yang agreed, “Indeed, it feels like a dream.” Xie Min then scolded Sui Yang, accusing him of only adding to the confusion with his words and not taking action—making the situation appear more realistic.
“Could it be that something happened to you too? Are you afraid of pain, so you entered the teddy bear?” Xie Min gently touched Sui Yang’s smooth, black hand and speculated softly, “But why have we both gone back to four years ago? It’s so strange…”
Sui Yang gazed at Xie Min’s face and noticed that when Xie Min was twenty-six years old, he did indeed have a slightly rounder appearance compared to now. While speaking, his cheeks would even puff up slightly. This was the Xie Min that Sui Yang had never dared to hope to possess.
“Do you have Master Yi’s contact number?” Xie Min asked.
“I don’t remember it,” Sui Yang informed him. “I might have to ask my vice president.”
Xie Min ran his hand through his hair, making the already messy locks even more disheveled. He lowered his head, looking at the transformed Sui Yang doll, tugging at the hem of Sui Yang’s clothes, and said, “Okay, but why are you inside this teddy bear that already had clothes, and why are you so much bigger than my previous little bunny?”
“Do we really need to compare that?” Sui Yang laughed.
“…Should I come find you then?” Xie Min yawned and extended his hand, bringing his watch closer to Sui Yang’s face, seemingly unaware that the words Sui Yang saw were mirrored. “Here, President Sui, take a look at the date. Do you still remember where you were working four years ago at this time?”
Sui Yang read the mirrored words and felt a sense of familiarity with the date. After thinking for a moment, he informed Xie Min, “Take a look at your schedule. Tomorrow should be the auction where we met.”
“Ah.” Xie Min looked at him in astonishment, paused for a few seconds, checked his own schedule, and then praised, “You have such a good memory.”
Sui Yang remained silent, and Xie Min continued, “In that case, should I come find you and have your vice president introduce me to Master Yi? What should be the first thing I say when we meet?” Xie Min clasped Sui Yang’s hand, the hand without fingers, and smiled lightly. “What do you want to hear?”
Sui Yang knew that the situation called for seriousness, but Xie Min’s twenty-six-year-old self evoked an odd sense of intoxication. Sui Yang said to Xie Min, “Can I call Mr. Xie whatever I want?”
As expected, Xie Min hesitated for a moment and replied, “Get lost.”
“Let’s talk business,” Xie Min poked Sui Yang and said, “Right now, you’re just my little bear. Understand?”
Sui Yang looked at Xie Min and replied, “Understood.” Xie Min suddenly burst into laughter and said, “Sui Yang, why are you so adorable as a teddy bear? Even more adorable than a person.”
It was the first time in Sui Yang’s life that someone described him as adorable. Although his thick skin allowed him to be indifferent about residing in any kind of toy, his emotions couldn’t help but become somewhat complicated.
“Come, address me as your master,” Xie Min placed Sui Yang on his lap, exhibiting a hint of pride.
Sui Yang confirmed with him, “Do you really want to hear it, Mr. Xie?”
Xie Min playfully retorted once again, calling Sui Yang a pervert.
This limited edition trendy toy bear was a birthday gift from Jiang Ci to Xie Min for his twenty-fifth birthday. It was made of black plastic, wearing a gray t-shirt and jeans, standing at approximately fifteen centimeters tall, making it inconvenient to carry around.
Sui Yang could imagine how onlookers might feel upon seeing someone strolling around with such a toy. However, Xie Min confidently appeared at the auction venue, hugging the little bear.
Sui Yang remained still, leaning against Xie Min, observing as Xie Min skillfully greeted his friends.
Crossing the lobby, passing through the hotel corridor, Sui Yang caught sight of his taller self.
Perhaps very few people in their lifetime had the opportunity to see their true self from a different perspective.
Sui Yang thought to himself as Xie Min held him tightly in his arms.
At the time of attending this auction, Sui Yang was twenty-seven years old. Despite knowing in advance that Xie Min’s name was on the guest list, he hesitated but couldn’t resist coming. However, even though he attended, Sui Yang couldn’t bring himself to greet Xie Min. Just catching a glimpse from a distance and knowing that Xie Min was aware of his presence brought an inexplicable sense of contentment.
Afterwards, Dr. Zhuo commented that it was not the healthiest behavior but not overly excessive either.
The real Sui Yang was dressed in a black suit and didn’t look in Xie Min’s direction. However, if the Sui Yang doll were to provide an assessment, his posture seemed somewhat stiff.
“President Sui,” Xie Min whispered, “Why are you so cold? You won’t even look at me.”
“Should I go say hello?” Xie Min sought advice.
With no one around, Sui Yang told them, “Go ahead.”
Xie Min approached the twenty-seven-year-old Sui Yang, awkwardly greeting him. Sui Yang noticed that this version of himself seemed visibly nervous. His voice didn’t change much, but his speech slowed down, and his movements carried a hint of deliberateness.
The real Sui Yang appeared to be attentively listening to Xie Min’s ramblings, but the doll version of Sui Yang could be one hundred percent certain that his mind was blank. Fortunately, Xie Min couldn’t tell.
“I feel like every time you start a project, it goes smoothly,” Xie Min made up on the spot, “Is there some special ritual or superstition involved? I’m quite superstitious now.”
“…Let me ask my vice president about that. He’s the one handling all of these arrangements,” Sui Yang politely replied before stepping aside to make a phone call.
“Sui Yang,” Xie Min held the Sui Yang doll and quietly commented, “You’re so cooperative at this moment. Can you be like this in the future too, not going against my wishes?”
“Sure,” Sui Yang said to Xie Min, “Master.”
Xie Min’s hand trembled, nearly causing him to drop the Sui Yang doll. He looked annoyed and embarrassed, lowering his head to look at the doll. “Can we select a more appropriate time for this? It’s not normal, right?”
Sui Yang genuinely found Xie Min adorable and couldn’t help but go along with his words. “I understand. I’ll do my best.”
At that moment, the real Sui Yang returned and informed Xie Min of Master Yi’s contact information. He also informed Xie Min that the vice president had already made the necessary arrangements, so Xie Min could simply make the call directly.
Xie Min looked down to save the number, and the real Sui Yang said to them, “Long time no see.”
Holding the Sui Yang doll’s head up, Sui Yang could tell from his appearance that he was nervous. It was somewhat regrettable that Xie Min didn’t know, but at the same time, there was a sense of relief. The real Sui Yang certainly didn’t want Xie Min to figure it out.
“Long time no see,” Xie Min finished saving the number, looked up, smiled, and walked away, still carrying the Sui Yang doll.
At the auction, Xie Min bid on three paintings, one more than the last time, which happened to be the one Sui Yang had previously won. This time, the real Sui Yang raised the paddle once, but when he saw Xie Min bidding, he didn’t continue to participate.
After Xie Min won the bid, he whispered against the Sui Yang doll’s fur, “It’s for you. How about it, President Sui? Do you like it?”
Sui Yang had no way to deal with his capriciousness and recklessness, so he replied, “After all this time, you still remember.”
“Don’t misunderstand. I just have a good memory,” Xie Min proudly teased, whispering in Sui Yang’s ear.
After the auction, Xie Min said he wanted to get some fresh air and walked out of the hall, holding the Sui Yang doll against his side. Coincidentally, he ran into the real Sui Yang making a phone call. Perhaps due to their familiarity with each other, Xie Min didn’t avoid him and approached. He overheard Sui Yang saying, “Arrange an appointment for me with Zhuo Ping the day after tomorrow in the afternoon.”
Xie Min paused in his steps, moved aside, and stood behind a pillar. Sui Yang finished the call and returned to the venue without noticing him.
“Zhuo Ping,” Xie Min suddenly spoke to the Sui Yang doll, “Why are you in such a hurry to meet her?”
Telling one lie required many other lies to cover it up. Sui Yang was well aware of this. He calmly said to Xie Min, “Is it wrong to enjoy working out?”
“No, there’s nothing wrong,” Xie Min smiled, without looking down at the Sui Yang doll. After a pause, he continued, “But the truth is, sometimes I also go see Dr. Zhuo. There’s nothing embarrassing about it.”
Sui Yang was taken aback.
Xie Min held him and walked back to the venue, not bringing up the topic again.
In the hotel room at the auction venue, Xie Min made a phone call to Master Yi.
Master Yi’s apprentice answered the call and asked if Xie Min needed a ritual for starting a project. Xie Min confirmed and inquired if Master Yi was available for consultation, mentioning that something strange had happened to him, and the price could be negotiated.
Shortly after, Master Yi appeared on the screen with a smile.
“Master, you see,” Xie Min held Sui Yang in his arms, looking at the phone, “I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered a situation where someone suddenly goes back from being thirty years old to their twenty-six-year-old self?”
Master Yi stroked his beard and asked, “Is there any pain involved?”
“No,” Xie Min replied, “It just happened after waking up from a sleep.”
“Did anyone around you experience any unusual phenomena?” Master Yi continued to inquire.
“…There’s a friend,” Xie Min said, “But he didn’t go back to his own body. Instead, he ended up inside an object. Could it be that something happened to him, and his soul took refuge to avoid pain, resulting in this situation?”
Master Yi frowned, pondered for a moment, and asked for both individuals’ birth dates and times. After a long calculation, he suddenly said, “When a soul enters an object, there are two possibilities. One is as Mr. Xie described, where the soul leaves the physical body due to unbearable pain, but this requires a specific soul-binding talisman with his name inscribed on it, and Mr. Sui has not used it before. The other possibility is more complex, and Mr. Xie can understand it as a fixation on unfinished business. Before the transformation occurred, he must have been in a particular location, and due to certain fortuitous circumstances, there was a retrogression in time and space. Mr. Xie’s return to the physical body may also be related to this fixation.”
“…May I ask, Master, how can this be resolved?”
“Although this fixation is stubborn, it won’t persist for too long,” Master Yi said. “Perhaps three to five days, and it will resolve on its own.”
Sui Yang remained silent as Xie Min held onto him, watching as Xie Min transferred money to the master and ended the video call.
After a moment of silence, Xie Min suddenly asked, “Sui Yang, what is a soul-binding talisman? I wanted to ask you before. I noticed that you’ve transferred money to Master Yi multiple times.”
The light from the hotel ceiling illuminated the back of the doll’s legs, making the skin appear delicate and soft.
Xie Min’s hand at that moment had a slight fleshy feel, as if it hadn’t completely left his youth, carrying a sense of romance and innocence.
Sui Yang realized that at some point, his lies had accumulated to the point of collapsing. Despite his efforts to keep them well-organized before Xie Min exposed him, now they were on the verge of falling apart.
However, even at this moment, Xie Min didn’t speak to Sui Yang in an interrogative or accusatory tone. He had only a few doubts, without any defensiveness, lightly manipulating the doll’s arm, and said to Sui Yang, “It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it, but Master Yi mentioned that before you entered this teddy bear, you were in a specific place. Can you share about that place?”
The barriers of the meaningless private life that Sui Yang had fabricated for the past ten years collapsed like a series of dominoes, starting from the mountaintop amid strong winds and heavy rain.
The teddy bear’s hands and feet were round and clumsy, giving it a cute appearance. It remained motionless as it spoke to Xie Min. “At that time, I was at Linfeng Manor.”
“In my house?” Xie Min asked, somewhat puzzled.
“No,” Sui Yang paused and told him, “I also have a house at Linfeng Manor.”
“……” Xie Min didn’t expect this answer. He looked at the teddy bear for a moment and asked, “When did you buy it?”
“It’s been a few years. I didn’t tell you because I knew it was abnormal,” Sui Yang explained to Xie Min slowly. “The same goes for the matters concerning Zhuo Ping and the soul-binding talisman.”
Sui Yang’s voice always made people feel that he was the most reasonable and convincing.
From the time Xie Min first met Sui Yang in his teenage years until they parted ways, he had initially disliked Sui Yang for his pretentiousness as a campus star. Then he grew to like his indifference and stability. Even after their breakup, Xie Min still secretly learned from him.
During university, when giving presentations in front of professors and classmates, or when negotiating contracts for work, Xie Min would always wonder how Sui Yang would handle those situations.
Xie Min wondered what Sui Yang was doing now and if he had become successful and was living a good life. Surely, he didn’t miss Xie Min. He had moved on, so Xie Min didn’t miss him either. However, Sui Yang, now residing in Xie Min’s teddy bear, said to him, “My mental state hasn’t been great since we broke up. At first, I was busy and broke, so I didn’t have much time to think. Later, when conditions improved and I met Chen Liao, sometimes I would ask him to find out some news about you. The week after you bought the house at Linfeng Manor, I was on a business trip to Yuhai and visited the sales office. I also bought a unit, but I don’t stay there often.”
Xie Min looked at Sui Yang, feeling somewhat lost and mostly heartbroken. It seemed like a great regret, but he had no way to change it. He observed Sui Yang for a moment and said, “Is that how it is?”
“At first, I used to come to Yuhai often to see you,” Sui Yang’s confession sounded as if he was talking about someone else, devoid of much emotion. “Zhuo Ping didn’t advise me to do so, and later I reduced the frequency over the past two years. I am aware that this behavior is pathological. I joked with you, tried to resemble my old self a bit, and lightened the atmosphere to make it seem normal. It’s not always easy to achieve, but at least I can keep it from you.”
The toy bear had no expression, but Xie Min felt as though Sui Yang smiled in self-ridicule. He said, “You wouldn’t like someone who stalks you after a breakup, would you?”
“Sui Yang,” Xie Min called his name, hoping he would stop talking about himself in such a way.
The teddy bear stopped, and Xie Min began to think about what he should say. However, his emotional intelligence fell short, and he remained silent, contemplating for two or three minutes without knowing how to proceed. He leaned closer to the teddy bear and kissed its smooth forehead.
The plastic felt cold and lifeless. Sui Yang remained silent. After a brief moment of kissing the teddy bear, Xie Min closed his eyes and said, “How about when we return, you take me to your house? Can I see my own house?”
“Let’s secretly observe you, how about that?” Xie Min suddenly had a whimsical idea and opened his eyes. “This young master will also stalk you, but in reverse.”
Xie Min tried his best to display an excited expression, and finally, Sui Yang smiled.
Sui Yang felt that Xie Min’s tolerance and Xie Min himself were like a medicine, packaged like a variety of flavored candies, but more effective than any synthetic tablets available on the market.
After returning from the city where the auction took place, Xie Min immediately informed his secretary that he would be taking a vacation.
“I didn’t take time off because of you,” Xie Min emphasized, “I had already planned a three-day break, so this time it coincided. Besides, I’m currently working for my father, and I’m genuinely not used to it.”
It was still daylight when Xie Min held the teddy bear Sui Yang and forced him to tell him the direction of Sui Yang’s room. Standing by the floor-to-ceiling window, Xie Min compelled Sui Yang to join him in observing the windows of the building across.
“Can’t see anything,” Xie Min muttered after staring for a while, and then his phone suddenly vibrated.
He walked back to check and placed the screen in front of Sui Yang. It was a message from the twenty-seven-year-old Sui Yang, asking, “Did you make an appointment with the master?”
“What should I reply?” Xie Min asked him earnestly.
Sui Yang couldn’t come up with an answer.
“Then I’ll reply myself,” Xie Min said, “I’ll respond with ‘Yes, thank you.'”
He sent the message and quickly received a reply saying, “No need to thank me.”
“Where did you say you replied from?” Xie Min asked him, “Yuanguang or Yuhai?”
“Yuanguang,” Sui Yang didn’t find it too difficult to say, “I went to Dr. Zhuo’s place right after the auction ended.”
“Ah,” Xie Min paused and touched the teddy bear’s face, “Okay.”
“Sui Yang,” Xie Min suddenly asked Sui Yang, “Do you think that once we return to normal, this Sui Yang who messages me will still stay in touch with Xie Min?”
Sui Yang thought for a moment and said, “I don’t know.”
Xie Min was asking the same question that he wanted to know.
The existence of two Sui Yangs on the same Earth was not only bizarre but also sparked his imagination. For example, in this world, would Sui Yang and Xie Min establish an earlier connection and what would be their ultimate fate?
Would they reconcile earlier? Would Xie Min still become his LEGO bunny?
“Maybe,” Xie Min suddenly said, “You reach out to me, and I pretend to be indifferent at first, but then I can’t help but seek you out, and in the end, we reunite.”
When Xie Min spoke these words, he appeared as innocent as a student, making Sui Yang feel like their breakup was just a nightmare. Sui Yang purposely said, “Is Mr. Xie so easily swayed?”
Xie Min turned Sui Yang’s face away, not allowing Sui Yang to see him, placing his hand on the teddy bear’s shoulder, and said, “It’s because I like you, okay? If you had come to me earlier. I could only pretend to be cool for a little while.”
Xie Min spoke so earnestly that Sui Yang’s heart beat so fast as if it wanted to escape from the teddy bear’s body.
In his sleep that night, Sui Yang felt himself becoming weightless, detaching from the teddy bear and transforming into a beam of light, moving around Xie Min’s room.
The clock showed 9 AM. Xie Min lay in bed, sleeping soundly. Sui Yang watched him for a moment before leaving the room, slowly making his way to the living room.
He couldn’t remember when was the last time he came here, nor could he explain why. From the living room, he went to the hallway, floating in the air, examining the floor and the front door of Xie Min’s home. Finally, he passed through the door, drifting into the elevator and descending to the ground floor of the residential complex.
Yuhai was vibrant with greenery in the spring and summer. Sui Yang found himself in the lobby, looking for his own presence.
At twenty-seven years old, he was dressed casually, holding a bouquet of flowers, standing beside the sofa in the common area. His expression was both nervous and vacant. He had bought the flowers, but he was uncertain whether he should go upstairs and give them to the person he wanted to give them to.
Sui Yang realized that he didn’t actually know himself as well as he thought, and he couldn’t predict every decision he would make upon encountering him.
The beam of light stayed in the lobby for an unknown duration, observing Sui Yang holding the flowers and eventually walking towards the elevator.
Opening his eyes once again, Sui Yang found himself back in his bed in the bedroom of Linfeng Manor.
Whether it was due to the unfamiliar bed or not, his entire body felt uncomfortable. He opened his eyes and pondered for a while, lifting his hand to examine it. It was no longer the round paw of a teddy bear.
He had transformed into the teddy bear in Xie Min’s home when Xie Min was twenty-six years old. It felt like a dream that couldn’t be defined as either good or bad. When he woke up and reflected upon it, he desperately wished that the Xie Min who had traveled back with him was real, but he also knew it was highly unlikely.
Sui Yang sat up, intending to check if the dosage of the medicine prescribed by Dr. Zhuo seemed a bit off. Suddenly, he received a phone call from Xie Min.
He paused for a few seconds before answering, hearing Xie Min’s voice on the other end saying, “Sui Yang, I had a dream.”
Sui Yang remained silent as Xie Min continued, “I dreamt that you turned into the silly teddy bear Jiang Ci gave me and let me manipulate you.”
“……” Sui Yang couldn’t help but chuckle at Xie Min’s playful words.
“Together, we searched for Master Yi and even went to the auction to find the twenty-seven-year-old you,” Xie Min said, “And in the end, the twenty-seven-year-old you actually came knocking on my door, giving me flowers.”
“Of course, I accepted them,” Xie Min proudly informed Sui Yang, “I bought an extra painting at the auction as a return gift for him.”
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